Subject to meeting the relevant regulatory and control requirements, and where relevant, the payment of tariffs, the import or export of beef is a matter for commercial operators.
It should be noted that, according to CSO data, between January and Oct 2020, Ireland imported approximately 24,000 tonnes of beef at a value of €106 million. In the same period, Ireland exported almost 500 million tonnes of beef at a value of €1.88 billion. Bord Bia continues to support quality assured Irish produce through promotion campaigns on the domestic market as well as in export markets.
The European Commission's medium term outlook shows that the EU as a whole imported 348,000 tonnes of beef in 2020 (down from 386,000 tonnes in 2019) and this figure is projected to grow by 0.6% annually in the period to 2030. Total beef consumption in the EU is estimated at 6.5 million tonnes.
My Department will continue to closely monitor the level of beef imports into the EU as an important factor in the overall supply balance in the EU market.
With regard to the EU-Mercosur trade agreement in particular, I have emphasised my concerns about the negative impact this would have for the Irish beef sector in particular. It is also very important that the environmental sustainability chapter of the agreement is respected and rigorously enforced.